Improvement on the offensive line is a primary focus for the Chicago Bears this offseason. They took the first step in that process by signing former Tennessee Titans guard Nate Davis to a three-year deal in 2023 NFL free agency.
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While not a superstar, Davis is exactly the type of consistent performer the Bears needed up front, one who has put up nearly identical PFF grades over the past three seasons. He posted a 70.6 overall grade in 2022, buoyed by a career-high 66.8 pass-blocking grade. Davis is also a schematic fit in the run game, sporting a solid 76.9 run-blocking grade in zone schemes last season. The Bears utilized the fifth-most zone run plays during the 2022 regular season.
At 26 years old, Davis is a young, ascending player who will join a Bears team that already carries a couple of others in Braxton Jones and Teven Jenkins. Jones finished 2022 as PFF’s highest-graded rookie offensive lineman, while Jenkins, despite nagging injuries, was the third-highest-graded guard in the NFL.
The question will be a matter of shuffling positions. Jones should be locked in as the left tackle, but Jenkins and fellow incumbent guard Cody Whitehair appear to have more uncertainty as to where they will play. Davis has played every snap of his career at right guard. Jenkins, however, graded out to an excellent 80.7 in 2022 at right guard for the Bears.
Chicago could ask Davis or Jenkins to move to the left side, which would put Whitehair in flux. Whitehair did play center during his first five seasons in the NFL, but he has not done so since 2020. This solution would allow the Bears to shore up their right tackle spot in free agency or the draft.
Another option could be to move Jenkins back out to right tackle despite his success at guard. This would accommodate Davis, allowing him to stay at his natural right guard position. Chicago would also have the option of leaving Whitehair at left guard if they feel more comfortable with him there.
Regardless of where Davis plays, the Bears know he will perform as an above-average starter. He’s been a top-25 NFL guard for three years in a row. Their incumbents’ positional flexibility gives them options.
Nate Davis‘ addition to Chicago gives the team four legitimate NFL starters up front. The Bears do need to figure out the center and right tackle spots, but they have substantial cap space and draft capital to do so. While there is a long way to go before this offensive line is complete, Davis just made Chicago’s job a lot easier.